The more details that become available about the Equifax data breach, the more consumers are rightly concerned about their personal information being compromised. Equifax, an Atlanta-based company, said recently that as many as 143 million people may have had their personal data exposed when “criminals” hacked a website application vulnerability. That being said, there are two things you need to do right now to protect your credit: First, sign up for free credit monitoring at CreditKarma.com and secondly, freeze your credit. Money expert Clark Howard advises that this two-step process, in that order, be followed in the aftermath of the Equifax data breach.

Credit Karma:

In addition to free credit monitoring, Credit Karma offers a number of financial services aimed at protecting your data and making you a more informed user of credit. Another plus for users is that Credit Karma allows consumers to check their credit free of charge as many times as they would like. Other companies generally require a fee and/or block you from more than one inquiry a year. Once you’ve signed up for Credit Karma, your financial profile will have the website’s durable safeguards in place to alert you in case anyone tries to fraudulently open an account in your name. Next, you’ll want to freeze your credit.

Credit Freeze:

Freezing your credit is the No. 1 way consumers can protect themselves against identity fraud. This will require contacting all three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The easiest way to freeze all 3 bureaus is to go to Clark Howard's Credit Freeze Guide, which can help navigate you through the process and includes detailed instructions on not to just how to freeze your credit, but — just as importantly — how to thaw it when you need to.

In most states, once you’ve frozen your credit, it will remain that way until you request to thaw it, but there are exceptions. Four states — Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota — automatically remove credit freezes after seven years. In those states, you’re going to have to remember to re-request credit freezes seven years from the date of placement.

Courtesy of www.clarkhoward.com